Evidence-based practice for teachers

Evidence-based practice for teachers

The Educational Issue

When teachers are unable to access educational research to inform teaching practices, they don’t have the most relevant and up to date information to teach their students. As a result, teachers are unable to implement the most appropriate interventions.

What is Evidence-Based Practice?

EBP Education defines evidence-based practice as the integration of the best available scientific research with teacher expertise, student and family preferences, and the educational context, to make informed decisions about teaching practices.


The Evidence Puzzle


Evidence-based practice is a term that has been used in disciplines like medicine, nursing, psychology and speech pathology for many years. It is a scientific way of working that ensures that practitioners only use treatments and therapies that are proven to be successful.


EBP Educations Perspective


Within the educational context evidence-based practice is the use of scientific research to implement pedagogical methods. It is the opposite of traditional reflective teaching methods that see teachers delivering lessons that they deem appropriate but are not supported by research.


Universities are discussing the idea of the ‘clinical teacher’ or the ‘teacher scientist’, governments are beginning to mention evidence-based practice in educational policies but schools and teachers, who need this information the most, remain uninformed and time poor. 

What exists is a research-practice gap. 

A Casual Relief Teacher 
A High School Teacher 
A Primary School Teacher 

Why Should Teachers Implement Evidence-Based Practice?

If there is a choice between doing something that you know is most likely to work versus doing something that might work, obviously the option with the highest success rate wins. So why is this practice not evident in education? Evidence-based practices lead to increased student outcomes. Teachers who implement evidence-based practices are more likely to produce successful students. Therefore it stands to reason that these teachers are more likely to have increased job satisfaction and stay in the profession for longer; a win-win situation for all stakeholders.

Take a look at the teaching of reading, which is originally where this shift towards evidence-based practice within the teaching profession began. Children have been taught to read through ‘Whole Language’ programs for many years and have poor reading outcomes as a result. The Australian Bureau of Statistics3 reports that 44% or 7.3 million Australians aged between 15 and 74 years old lack sufficient literacy skills for everyday life. Since the The Reading Excellence Act in the USA and the National Literacy Strategy in the UK policies have directed schools to use reading programs that are evidence-based.

In the USA, funding is only provided for reading programs that are based in evidence. Whilst schools may choose to use other methods, there are no financial incentives for doing so.

In the UK, where the use of evidence-based practice for teaching reading is mandated, children at five and six years old take a government organised ‘Year 1 Phonics Screening Check’. The Guardian6 reported that in 2012 58% of children reached the expected standard but by 2014 an incredible 74% of children had reached the expected standard, which correlates with the introduction of the use of systematic synthetic phonics (evidence-based practice for reading). In Australia, The National Enquiry into the Teaching of Literacy recommended the use of systematic synthetic phonics programs. However, at a national level there has been no attempt to implement such recommendations to address the poor literacy standards in Australia. 

How to Implement Evidence-Based Practice  

The correct research and implementation of evidence-based practice is time consuming and access to the latest information in education is needed. In the medical profession doctors have software systems that enable them to easily search through the myriad of treatments available for any given condition and easily access up-to-date information about the scientific evidence for each one. This does not exist in education and until governments make substantial changes to the way teachers work, this task will remain unachieveable.

The implementation process involves the meticulous investigation of educational research to find suitable available teaching methodologies. There are multiple research models for successfully embedding evidence-based practice, all of which follow the core steps of assess, ask, acquire, appraise and apply.

The 5 A's 

EBP Education Recommendations

EBP Education recognises that researching and implementing evidence-based practices in your classroom is no easy task. That is why we have developed a subscription site to enable teachers to access the research in a snapshot without requiring an expensive masters degree and avoid taking time away from already time poor teachers. EBP Education's white papers are interactive and easy to use on any device. In each whitepaper you will have access to evidence-based practices that clearly outline what it is, what the evidence is and how to implement it. Embedded into each whitepaper are interactive components that bring life to evidence-based practice using dynamic visuals and professionally led podcasts. Coupled with the use of EBP Education’s Implementation Plan, implementing evidence-based practice has never been easier. 

These unique EBP Education images are designed to support your decisions when choosing the most appropriate evidence-based practice to implement.

Evidence Rankings

Highest Level of Evidence


High Level of Evidence 


Low Level of Evidence 


Limited Level of Evidence


EBP Education Implementation Icons

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Authors note: References appear in alphabetical order
The Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2013). Preliminary findings. Retrieved April 1, 2017 from,  http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4228.0main+features992011-2012
Department for Education and Employment. (1998). The National Literacy Strategy: Framework for Teaching. London: Crown. 

Gersten, R., Chard, D., & Baker, S. (2000). Factors enhancing sustained use of research-based instructional practices. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 33, 445-457.
The Guardian. (n.d.). Rise in children passing literacy benchmarks as phonics method pays off. Retrieved April 1, 2017 from, https://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/sep/25/rise-children-passing-literacy-benchmarks-phonics -method

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning. A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. Oxon: Routledge.

Hempenstall, K. (n.d.). Evidence-based practice in education: Why not? Retrieved from The Parliament of Australia website: http://www.aph.gov.au/DocumentStore.ashx?id=324387a8-60c3-414b-9cc2-2e5da8e32d8e